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Special Operation: 409 children rescued from Delhi railway station

Earlier this year, SBT was the main co-ordinator of a joint week-long operation with police and railway authorities and one other NGO at New Delhi railway station.

It is usual that every morning, SBT's social workers from the contact point at the station do a sweep of the platforms at the time the overnight trains arrive from the East that bring the largest number of children.  And this currently enables SBT to reach out to about 1,000 children a year at this one location alone. But the special operation was on a different scale: 68 outreach workers covering all 16 station platforms, round the clock for a week.

The bare statistics:

409 children were rescued, including 38 girls (9% of the total, double the proportion of the last similar exercise in 2018). 

66% of the children rescued were 15 or younger and mostly aged 13-15. 

Over half came from the state of Bihar. 

60% had at least some schooling, but half of them had dropped out, and 16% were illiterate.

60% of the children said they had not come to Delhi to look for work but for a variety of reasons including being lost, family problems, or running away for love. 

But, of the 40% who did say it was for work, a disturbingly high proportion were travelling with adults other than their parents.  In other words, they were being trafficked.

Six boys aged between 9 and 16 from poor families in Bihar were found together. None had been to school; they told the social workers an uncle in their village had given them the number of someone in Delhi who promised them jobs paying Rs 9,000 (apx. £85) a month. Lured by the promise of money they would likely never have been paid, they ran away from their families and took the train to Delhi.

Salaam Balaak Trust is sometimes involved in physical raids of factories where children are found working, which can lead to arrests of the adults responsible. But this operation was preventative, before any offences had been committed.

Many of the children were taken to SBT shelter homes in the short term, especially the girls because, aside from the SBT homes, there are currently so few other safe options for girls in Delhi.

SBT’s involvement in these children’s lives may be much shorter than for those who will stay in a shelter home until they are 18, but if social workers can step into a crisis and prevent vulnerable children from ending up in child labour, in a red light district or living on the street, it is life-changing.

Your donations this Christmas can help SBT to restore more children home to their families.


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